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Latvia Disappointment Followed By Punishments For Players

30 September 2009

A September that promised much for Latvian men's basketball ended in a Preliminary Round knockout at the EuroBasket and now, heads are rolling.

The Latvian Basketball Federation has handed out suspensions related to off-the-court incidents that has left question marks over the national team careers of co-captain Kristaps Valters and veteran guard Armands Skele.

Valters, 28, the son of EuroBasket 1981 MVP Valdis Valters, has been disqualified for three years while playmaker Skele has been slapped with a two-year ban.

Kaspars Berzins, Andris Biedrins and Kaspars Kambala were each hit with one-year bans that will only come into effect if the players commit transgressions in the future.

The 24-year-old Berzins was the last player cut from the Latvian squad before the EuroBasket.

No specifics on the players' transgressions were revealed but Skele issued a public statement to say he was sorry for what had happened.

He said in remarks published on sportacentrs.com: "I apologize to Team Latvia fans who came all the way to Poland, all supporters and the basketball society as a whole.

"I must admit I was far from being a role model in my actions."

National team coach Kestutis Kemzura, meanwhile, has been offered a contract extension and must make a decision on whether to remain in charge by October 15.

Latvia suffered an 81-68 defeat to Russia in their EuroBasket Group B opener and then fell to France, 60-51.

They managed to beat Germany 68-62 in their last Preliminary Round game but that wasn't good enough to advance to the Qualifying Round.

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